By Nicole Underwood / NewsBreak, Pinal County, AZ
(ELOY, AZ) - Many beautiful spaces and diverse ideas exist in the Sonoran Desert, especially those immersed in rural locations where you may need to dig a bit deeper to discover. Located between Phoenix and Tucson in the city of Eloy exists a rural oasis called the Desert Rose Baha'i Institute, where members of the Bahá’í Faith assemble in a gorgeous facility to promote spiritual and artistic expression.
According to bahaiteachings.org, the Baha’i faith is a newer, independent global belief system that “teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity, and the essential harmony of religion.” It is the world’s second-most widespread religion after Christianity, who promotes areas of science and religion, gender equality, and the elimination of all prejudice and racism with a welcoming, accepting culture.
Specifically, the Desert Rose websites states that their mission is “to establish Desert Rose as a center of learning whose mission is to serve both the Bahá’í Community and the community at large through phased development of activities and institutions that promote spiritual, artistic, intellectual, agricultural and other practical education for people of all ages and backgrounds.”
While the faith is not as well known in United States as other areas of faith are, notable Baha'i celebrities like the late Dizzy Gillespie, MLB player Khalil Greene, drummer and spouse of Carlos Santana, Cindy Blackman, and Rainn Wilson, who recently visited downtown Phoenix at Arizona Wilderness Brewery with The Nature Conservancy for Earth Day, offer examples of those who embrace Baha'is contemporary philosophies.
For those unfamiliar with its origins, the religion was established by Baháʼu'lláh in the 19th century, and originated in Iran and parts of the Middle East. Today, the faith is embraced by over 100,000 communities globally and approximately 6 million people worldwide.
The faith has no priesthood and does not observe ritual forms in its worship. Known as Baháʼís, those who practice the Baháʼí faith focus on the three principles of the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. There has been a history of persecution with those who have practiced this faith, known in some areas of Iran as “untouchables” and “heretics.” According to a 2018 article by Cronkite News, Mesa houses many who have fled their home country to avoid persecution. You can learn more about the origins of the faith and national events on their national bahai.us website.
According to the Bahá'ís of the United States official website, there are more than 40 Bahá'í communities here in Arizona, with facilities in Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Houck, and Eloy. The community in Scottsdale recently celebrated Riḍván (meaning “Paradise”) in mid-April, a twelve-day festival in the Bahá’í faith.
In Eloy, the Desert Rose Baha'i Institute is a place of celebration and worship, hosting multiple meeting and event facilities on its campus, both indoor and outdoor. The facilities can hold groups up to 100-200 people, complete with professional kitchens and desert gardens. They also offer apartment spaces and dormitories for short-term and long-term rentals to individuals and families looking for spaces to visit the facilities, have personal meditations or long-term spiritual retreats.
Their school was founded by William “Bill” Sears and his wife Marguerite in 1988 in Tucson. After her husband’s death in 1992, Marguerite purchased land in Eloy in 1996 to begin the construction of the facility. Their campus continues to grow in lieu of Marguerite's passing in 2006. Other amenities they offer include a bookstore, library, art gallery, swimming pool, a recent farm launched in 2019, and other outdoor units on their 40-acre space for people to gather and commune together. You can schedule a tour on their website to see the full facility or full list of events.
Set up as a 501c3, the Desert Rose Baha'i Institute accepts donations and ways to volunteer for those who are interested in being involved in their community. They are hosting an upcoming session called “Redefining Power in the New Age,” by Dr. Saeid Mirafzali, to present online on May 22 from 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m eastern time. Donations are welcomed. You can view their digital flier on Facebook or email email@example.com for more information.